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“The Cut” is a weekly reporters notebook-type essay by an Ideastream Public Media content creator, reflecting on the news and on life in Northeast Ohio. What exactly does “The Cut” mean? It's a throwback to the old days of using a razor blade to cut analog tape. In radio lingo, we refer to sound bites as “cuts.” So think of these behind-the-scene essays as “cuts” from Ideastream's producers.

We're telling the stories of entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio

Three hanger-like buildings that house City Goods
John C. Kuehner
Ideastream Public Media
Last month, freelance writer John C. Kuehner explored the seven hangar-type buildings at the corner of Church Avenue and W. 28th Street in Cleveland, where 24 local small business owners share retail space.

We just wrapped up a short and successful fund drive, and I always come away from those with two thoughts.

First, like most listeners (hopefully because they’ve already contributed to this important endeavor), thank goodness it’s over and we’re back to regular programming. And second, thank goodness for those who value the work we do and whose contributions make this enterprise possible.

The largest portion of our support comes from individual donors, and it is key to funding all of the newsgathering and storytelling we do — our beats covering local government in Cleveland and Akron and the surrounding regions, education, criminal justice, the environment, underserved communities and health care.

But even with all of that generosity, there has for a long time been one area we just couldn’t find the means or the capacity to adequately cover. It’s an important beat that affects so many of us, whether we are workers, employers or neighbors: small businesses and entrepreneurship.

That changed this year, though, when another funder — this time not an individual but a foundation, namely Hudson’s Burton D. Morgan Foundation — stepped in to give our newsroom the wherewithal to hire freelance journalists who we work with to tell the stories of small business owners across Northeast Ohio.

While, as I mentioned, the biggest single source of our budget is individual donors, we also get some money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, some from underwriters and some from various foundations.

Burton D. Morgan has a keen interest in entrepreneurship, and its grant helps shine a light on it. Ideastream has complete journalistic independence. We hire the freelancers, decide on the stories and edit and produce them to our standards.

What we’ve seen so far has been a rich and eclectic look at the risk-takers who form the backbone of commerce in our region.

There’s the story by freelance writer Douglas J. Guth focusing on efforts to bring people of color into the cannabis industry. The piece by retired Plain Dealer reporter Tom Breckenridge on small businesses that pivoted during the pandemic to not only survive, but thrive. And one by another former Plain Dealer editor, John C. Kuehner, detailing the unique “hangar” buildings in Cleveland’s Hingetown neighborhood and how they’re used as a way to support a collective of artisans.

There is much more to come, too, including a story about a food service entrepreneur whose stated goal is to open 100 businesses in five years and another about all the hustlers making money by reselling stuff they either buy or find.

You may hear some of these stories on the air on WKSU or discussions about the issues they raise on the “Sound of Ideas.” But first and foremost, you will find them on our website, ideastream.org. We’re growing our digital presence, and these in-depth stories are geared for the web first.

Check out all of our small business and entrepreneurial stories and let me know what you think. Better yet, share tips on what else we should be covering in the entrepreneurial realm. Is there a small business owner whose story must be told? A challenge we should examine? A solution to a problem that should be highlighted?

Drop me a line at mmcintyre@ideastream.org. And thanks.

"The Cut" is featured in Ideastream Public Media's weekly newsletter, The Frequency Week in Review. To get The Frequency Week in Review, The Daily Frequency or any of our newsletters, sign up on Ideastream's newsletter subscription page.

Corrected: March 16, 2023 at 4:21 PM EDT
An earlier version of this essay incorrectly stated that the "majority" of our budget comes from individual donors. Individual donors make up the largest single source of our budget, but it does not make up 50% or more and, therefore, is not a majority.
Mike McIntyre is the executive editor of Ideastream Public Media.